Three years on, and whatever doubts people might have had about chef Jason Tan and the Corner House taking over this charming black-and-white former residence of E J H Corner – he was assistant director (1929 – 1945) of Singapore Botanic Gardens, a Unesco World Heritage Site – have been swept away by the many well-deserved accolades he’s received.
The Corner House is a special treat, and not just for special occasions. It’s for whenever a step back from the world is needed, into a slower, more gracious time when every bite and every sip can be savoured.
Tan has described his food at Corner House as Gastro-Botanica – contemporary cuisine in which he places equal emphasis on meat as well as vegetables and plants. With changing seasonal menus – there is no a la carte options – Tan is constantly pushing the culinary envelope.
On our last visit, although prettily presented dishes such as the Maine lobster with riso (a Northern Italian spiral pasta made from white flour), sautéed squid and smoked leeks and the pan-seared to perfection Japanese A4 Toriyama beef were delicious – they were part of the five-course Menu Degustation – it was the five-course Menu Botanica that blew our mind.
Menu Botanica is a vegetarian set featuring two of Tan’s standout signature dishes. The first is his variations on a theme of Cevennes onion, otherwise called Interpretation of My Favourite Vegetable. Essentially, Tan has created four dishes out of this bulb: baked and hollowed-out to contain onion puree, 62-degree sous-vide egg, onion confit and black truffle; Parmesan-topped mini onion tart; lightly salted onion chips; and onion tea (essentially onion-infused tea poured over onion confit and cream). Creative? Check. Delicious? Check.
The second is My Favourite Childhood Memory, simply described on the menu as “peanut butter, pandan kaya and toasted bread”. It turned out to be chilled pandan kaya cream with coconut-flavoured peanut butter crisps. The oh-so-familiar taste just reminds us it’s been a while since we’ve had our favourite breakfast. Time to remedy that tomorrow.
Singapore Botanic Gardens, E J H Corner House, S(259569)